The politics of time, or What was globalization?

The politics of time, or What was globalization?

Ryan Schram
ANTH 2700: Key debates in anthropology
Social Sciences Building 410 (A02)
Week of April 04, 2022 (Week 7)

Slides available at

Main reading: Holtzman (2007)

Other reading: Kelly (1998)

Drawing maps

Can you draw a complete picture of the world from memory?

What do we learn when we see children’s maps of the world? For instance

Dixon, Terrance. 2019. “Middle School Student Can Draw World Map from Memory.” NBC 12 (WWBT). November 8, 2019.

Redrawing maps

Abramms, Bob, and Howard Bronstein. 2002. “The [South-Up] Hobo-Dyer Equal Area Projection Map.” Amherst, Mass.: ODT Maps, Inc.

The more familiar Mercator projection distorts the distance between points near the poles, making northern areas look larger than they are relative to areas around the Equator.

This projection, a modified version of a projection created by Walter Behrmann in 1910, distorts the shapes near the Equator and the poles, but preserves shapes at about 33 degrees north and south latitude, so that every area is the same size as it is on a globe (Snyder and Voxland 1989, 19–20).

Histories are stories

Histories are maps of time.

The emphasis on change is culturally conditioned in Western societies:

Narrative and metanarrative

Culture gives its members a set of narratives—metanarratives—that they apply to themselves as specific instances of a general type.

Modernity is a metanarrative

“Like sands through the hour glass, so are the days of our lives.”

If modernity is a meta-narrative, who are its stock characters?

Who is the hero?

Who is the villain?

What is a type of person?

Auhelawa: Yams are people too

Nostalgia as ideology and as critique

Metanarratives of change and the study of difference

It is a fact that no society is static, and that no society exists in pristine isolation. Given this, is the term globalization useful? What’s special about this period in history?

There are two parts to what we mean by globalization we need to separate

Globalization is plural

Today there are many different global contexts

Which one matters the most is a subject of debate

When people say that economic globalization is slowing down or going in reverse, anthropologists would say:

References and further reading

Abramms, Bob, and Howard Bronstein. 2002. “The [South-Up] Hobo-Dyer Equal Area Projection Map.” Amherst, Mass.: ODT Maps, Inc.

Holtzman, Jon. 2007. “Eating Time: Capitalist History and Pastoralist History Among Samburu Herders in Northern Kenya.” Journal of Eastern African Studies 1 (3): 436–48.

Kelly, John. 1998. “Time and the Global: Against the Homogeneous, Empty Communities in Contemporary Social Theory.” Development and Change 29 (4): 839–71.

Snyder, John Parr, and Philip M. Voxland. 1989. An Album of Map Projections. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.